Build great Teams – People management

Use STAR to be a Star Interviewer

Use STAR to be a Star Interviewer

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When you’re hiring, a behavioural interview is a great way to find out if someone has the attributes you need. We’ve also looked at different ways to ask a question, which is a powerful tool to use in an interview. This article looks at how to use the STAR framework to structure your questioning. This will help you really find out what you want to know. How to keep digging.

You Have Control

Inexperienced interviewers ask their set questions, write down the response the candidate gives, and then move on. Afterwards they look at their notes and wonder why they can’t decide if this person is the right fit. Don’t be scared to keep asking questions if the first response you get doesn’t give you the information you need. You need to gather enough information to be able to make a good decision. That means you need to keep asking questions until you get that information.

STAR Structure

To make sure you know when you have all the information you need, structure your questioning around four areas. If you gather information on all four area, you should have the information you need to make a good decision. The four areas can be summarized by the acronym STAR:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result
  • Situation

    Ask your initial behavioural interview question/statement and wait for the candidate’s initial response. Check whether the candidate gave you information about the situation they were facing for the example they’ve given. If they haven’t, dig deeper by asking open questions about the situation. Make sure you understand the context of the example they’ve provided.


    Once you have information about the situation you can move forwards. Next check to see if they gave you information about the specific task they were asked to do. If they haven’t, again, dig deeper with more open questions to find out about the task. That will give you more context for the example they’re using.


    Next, check to see if they told you about the actions that they themselves took to complete the task. Often at this point, people will tell you about what the team they were in did. They might tell you what happened in the 3rd person. You will probably have to keep digging to find out what this particular person did and contributed. Also question to find out why they did what they did. Don’t be afraid – keep digging. You want to know what they can do – not what a team they once worked in can do. You’re not looking to hire the whole team – just this one individual. Of all four stages – this is the one you want to spend most time on.


    Finally, check to see if they told you what the result of their actions was. Again check you’re getting information about results of what they did. You’re not particularly interested in what the team achieved. Most people are quick to tell you the result if it went well. Make sure you find out what the result of action they took was. Remember that a negative result is not necessarily bad if they learnt something from it. If that’s the case, don’t forget to keep asking so you find out what they learned!

    Use A Template

    Create an interview template so you can check they are giving you information on all four stages of STAR. Write the attribute you’re finding out about at the top to keep you focused. Include the behavioural interview question at the top as well, so you know what your initial question is. Then create 4 sections to capture the four stages of STAR. If any section is empty after their initial response, you know where to focus your additional questions.

    My Question To You

    When you interview, do you keep digging or do you feel awkward and give up before you find out what you really want to know? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


    About the Author:

    Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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